Valentino's Haute Couture Show in Beijing Is A Dream Come True
On a chilly November evening in Beijing, surrounding the Aman Summer Palace, which once served as the emperor’s holiday home, trees adorned in autumn foliage rustled in the wind. Inside, the fashion set, who had descended en masse to the Chinese capital from every corner of the world, waited with bated breath for couture master Pierpaolo Piccioli’s Valentino show to begin. All we knew about the exclusive capsule collection, shown outside the haute couture calendar for the first time, was its name: Daydream.
What populated Piccioli’s dreams? A marriage of two disparate cultures—part of his ongoing vision of greater inclusiveness in the industry, wrapped in frothy frocks, big bows and tiers of tulle. Showcasing the spirit of the Italian Renaissance with splashes of Chinese imperial splendour, black, Caucasian and Asian models swanned through the majestic halls in decadent dresses to an operatic soundtrack.
First came a voluminous pink gown layered over a glittering turtleneck, followed by a hooded cape drenched in feathers and then a blooming bow jumpsuit with a 1.5-metre train. Another model emerged in a crystal mask and majestic gown with fanned shoulders, adorned in rich gold and silver embroidery reminiscent of ancient Chinese robes. By the time Shanghai-born supermodel Du Juan appeared, doused in three-dimensional foiled flowers, guests were wiping away tears.
It was an emotional evening, not just because it was a spectacular display of an artist’s work, but also because at a time of such divisiveness it was particularly stirring to see an international audience celebrating savoir-faire and Chinese opulence under one roof. It’s Piccioli’s ability to so delicately champion diversity in his collections that sets his work apart from some of his peers who have tried and failed to appeal to patrons in Mainland China. After the show, when I thanked him for his work on diversity, Piccioli suddenly lit up and said, “Of course. And I will never stop, never stop.”
See also: Inside the Shoot: Spirited Away